|Review: Antiquus Scriptum - Immortalis Factus|
Label: Pesttanz Klangschmiede
Year released: 2013
Originally released in: 2008
Genre: Black Metal
Review online: December 30, 2013
Reviewed by: Christopher Foley
So I got a big bunch of CDs through the door for review, and the first one on the pile is the reissue of Portugal's Antiquus Scriptus' sophomore effort Immortalis Factus. Whilst initially a one-man project from Sacerdos Magus, present day it seems he has enlisted a full band, although here he called on the help of many guest musicians to ensure his vision of grandiose, almost Viking-style black metal came to true majestic fruition.
At over an hour there's a lot of music to digest here, and across the release many ideas are conceived, and given both time to grow and breathe. The vast wealth of the material adopts a suitably true Viking/black metal formula, although Magus' vocals, as well as an unhinged approach to the songwriting ensures Immortalis Factus stands as an ultimately enticing release. I will say this type of fare is somewhat out of my comfort zone, as I usually prefer my black metal more orthodox or Scandinavian. What I will say is that Antiquus Scriptus serve up some undoubtedly exciting material, which at least in my experience goes above any expectations or preconceived notions I have in the realms of Viking/Pagan/battle black metal.
Whilst there are a fair few elements atypical of their style - for instance the excerpts of chanting, battlefield noises, acoustic strumming and of course the folk instruments - Antiquus Scriptus have a pulsating undercurrent of thrashing, first-wave black metal influence which really helps sell the album. When Magus puts the pedal to the metal the riffs really do fly with a lot of conviction and aggression, which springs to mind early Bathory and Celtic Frost. His vocals however, are decidedly odd for the style. Again, something in common with the no-fucks-given approach of the first wave; the best I can describe Magus' vocals is to imagine a demonic Kai Hansen. The vocal lines are barked in a thrash-like manner, and backed up via chants, gang roars, and guest female vocals. This, along with the pugilistic manner in which a good portion of the album is played gives Antiquus Scriptus their identity, setting them apart from some of their contemporaries, and ultimately standing as the finer selling point of the band – at least as far as I'm concerned.
Of course there's plenty that like I've said keeps Antiquus Scriptus in touch with their contemporaries. Lyrically they touch most of the bases necessary, from ancient Scandinavian folklore to more blasphemous subjects. The lyrics are divided between English and Portuguese, which certainly gives variation, and I can imagine boasts wider appeal. That aside, there's plenty of mighty, drawn out affairs split up nicely via shorter interlude type tracks, and upfront bludgeons such as "Inner Depression (Syndromes Of Fear)".
Throughout the album there isn't all that much I can fault Antiquus Scriptum on. Whilst the material does take some time and attention to fully appreciate, it's undoubtedly worth it in the end, although I could imagine a forty-five minute album with more focus to the band's violent side would be something to behold. I guess that isn't what Sacerdos Magus was going for, though. Either way Immortalis Factum is definitely worthy of attention, particular if you're a big fan of this particular end of the black metal spectrum. There's plenty of underground charm, with enough oddity and originality to set Antiquus Scriptum apart from the crowd. Well worth investigating!
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